Recommended Article #14Nov22
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This recommended article "The Zen Dog: Reimagining the Healthy Dog" is curated and sourced from Adored Beast Apothecary. If you loved this article, please do feel free to share it around.
The Zen Dog: Reimagining the Healthy Dog
A truly healthy dog, is more than just about diet, good physical health without any existing ill conditions. The dog's mental health should also be factored in. A happy, calm and healthy dog can be more than just an ideal. What does that look like? How do we give our furkids the healthiest life possible?
A Healthy Dog, Physically and Mentally
A healthy dog has two components. When health is talked about, many look at species appropriate food, up to the point where people are trying to find what food is best for their furkids' genetics based on their country of origin, to local produce. However, people do forget that there is much more than just genetics; even in humans, more than 80% of chronic disease has an emotional component, which is why it is important that animals have a species oriented lifestyle.
Modern urban lifestyle has caused us to reign in the emotional state of our furkids, without really looking at the consequences. Unknown to many, emotions are actually completely connected to a dog’s hormones – cortisol, thyroid, adrenal glands, gut health, so naturally an unhappy or suppressed dog will have its health affected no matter what. It is therefore essential that we need to look at what is natural for a dog. For example, dogs sniff bums, and as their owners, we make them stop from embarrassment, we forget, that we may be removing an important aspect of how they sense if someone is "safe".
Let Dogs be Dogs
Playtime is important for our canine fur friends as that is time for movement and fresh air. In fact, the dog’s ancestor, the wolf, would be moving from anything from 30 to 60 miles per day. Movement feeds the cells and exercises the body parts. However, we have been forcing dogs to be so urbanized to the point that even just seeing their leash excites them, and many people have to try and calm that enthusiasm because they live in an apartment and worry about disturbing the neighbors, or feel it is too over the top when this is really the highlight of their day! We try to keep our dogs from barking or jumping too much and subconsciously expect them to be like humans – but they are not!
The truth is, dogs need to be dogs as much as they can, to be loose and be free. Do your homework, and find out historically what that dog would be doing if it could 'just be a dog'. Try to do or mimic that with them as much as you can in your engagement with them in dog play. If you really want to connect with your furkid, leave your cellphone at home or turned off when walking them. Understand what loving your dog really means from the dog’s point of view.
The Health of the Gut
The one other thing that does impact overall health - the gut. The gut is more than 80 percent of the immune system, with the gut and brain collaborating on overall health. The gut is the first thing that communicates to the brain and sends a signal to the body to keep homeostasis in check. If the gut is not healthy, no amount of good nutrition, CBD, supplements or herbs would help, if there is an imbalanced and unhealthy gut environment, the body cannot be healthy.
The Gut as an Ecosystem
The gut is like an ecosystem of its own. Should it be given too much of one probiotic, or too many similar species of probiotic, the other bacteria in the gut could get destroyed as a result. An example, would be the incident that happened years ago with Yellowstone National Park. Back then, the grey wolf population was exterminated as they were seen as a dangerous species in Yellowstone, and as a result the elk population got so massive that they destroyed everything in the park. The park, thereafter, was declared a natural disaster, until a scientist figured out that reintroducing the grey wolf back into the equation would naturally return the ecosystem to what it was.
Unfortunately, in the pet industry, instead of focusing on real gut health and working on making the ecosystem balanced, many companies see it as a moneymaking industry, compartmentalizing the gut just as probiotics for the purpose of marketing. Probiotics available on the market have mostly been formulated and developed for humans, but have been sold off as a "pet" product when our gut systems are not the same. One way that carnivores in the wild stay really balanced, without having to take supplements, come from what is in the gut of the prey they are eating. One of the things the prey typically eat is tree bark, so when the wolf eats the animal, they are ingesting tree bark indirectly, which is the prebiotic for the probiotic (meaning, food for good bacteria). This is an extremely important factor to account for when formulating pre and probiotics for dogs.
There has been a huge improvement on what is now known on the microbiome, but there is still much more to learn. Science is still in the infant stage and the canine microbiome does not make up even a fraction of that research.
Fido's Flora is the first and only biologically species-appropriate probiotic for your dog. This revolutionary product from dogs, for dogs, is a multi-strain probiotic blend featuring powerhouse minerals fulvic and humic acid and prebiotic larch.
Native and Transient Bacteria
There are two main groups of gut bacteria - native and transient. Native bacteria, is the resident bacteria living in the gut lining, while the transient bacteria refers to the worker bacteria that "visit", do their job, and leave. It is a great system, until the point of time there is a lack of prebiotics in the system. Then that is when it gets messed up as the transient bacteria would start eating all the food, causing the native bacteria to starve as the native bacteria does not move. In its state of starvation, the native bacteria resort to eating their house, the gut lining, for nutrients, which in turn results in gut trauma and leaky gut syndrome.
How do we know there is an overall good bill of health, physically, emotionally and mentally? This is evident in behavior, such as not being anxious, or having separation anxiety, aggression, over-grooming, over-licking, or being itchy. Their poop would be normal 99 percent of the time. They would not be excessively drinking water or panting, and would have abundant energy while playing and be calm and relaxed while sleeping. Your furkid will have sporting a healthy coat, clear eyes, clean ears, no anal gland issues or a smelly breath.
Living in the Moment
It is often heard that dogs live in the moment, but they also strive for routine. For many, these two concepts are contradictory.
However, it does not have to be. It is possible to live in the moment, and still have routine, because even in routine, it is possible to BE in the moment, not in the future, or in the past. The majority of us do not live in the moment. To live in the moment with our dogs, we need to learn from them. Take ten minutes and actually love your dog! Get off your computer or phone, roll around on the floor with her, be silly, be a dog, show your dog (not the world) how much you love your dog. These guys are teaching us to get off of our computers and phones. They are teaching us to just be. What you and your furkid get in those ten minutes, could be lifechanging.
Walks are routine, but they do not have to be! Sure, it can be at the same time every day, but it can be far from routine just by taking a different route or trail. Whatever you do, skip those earbuds and get off the phone! Look at the leaves blowing or whatever is interesting your dog. Become more mesmerized by the simple things around you and look out for nature's beauty. Let your dog sniff and dig, and be interested in what they are doing. They are not on their walks wondering if they are beautiful or if that new gadget is out – they are just happy to be alive and with their human soul mate, you.
Really, it is less about routine with dogs and more about the energy you emit. Include your dog by asking them about their day, they will feel the energy of your engagement. Put the energy out to discover what they think is interesting and what they like. We are expecting them to become humanized, when we really have to allow them to just be dogs, which is what it means to "be in the moment". Pay attention and engage, listen, and watch out for what unfolds after.
A Family Member
What each dog needs in order to be happy and healthy is individualized within every family – there is no cookie cutter method. When it comes to your furkid, your dog’s routine is your family routine. Try as best as you can to include your furkid in your personal or family routine. For example, if soccer practice is at seven every Wednesday night, bring your furkid along if it is permitted for them to hang around at practice.
Your furkid is part of your family, or put another way, you are part of its pack. If YOU are their pack, then involve them in your routine, even if that means you include them in bedtime routines or storytime with the children. Basically, and most importantly, include them as much as possible in your everyday life.
By being more focused on your furkid when you are taking care of it, you will be a better owner. Whatever physical activity you are doing right now, do it with your dog instead of putting your brain somewhere else. Roll around, play with them, talk to them, engage with them. Even better, read up on your pet's breed, and find out what would they naturally be doing, and then find creative ways to let them do it.
Do not give up on your older dogs. If they have difficulty walking, do not isolate them in the house. Take them for rides, stop and buy them a treat and let them get out and smell the air for as long as you both can. Do not rush them, and let them take their time. When they smell something, it is like us reading the newspaper. That is how they derive information, and that is really important.
One of the number one things often heard is that your dog gives unconditional love. and part of that is what makes a healthy dog – but it only happens if it goes both ways. If you are really mindful and observant, and give your furkid your attention, that kind of love goes along way in health, wellness and longevity.
Julie Anne Lee, DCH, RcsHOM, is a qualified veterinary practitioner and graduate of the Vancouver Academy of Homeopathy, having studied with some of the world’s leading homeopaths, and is an Associate Member of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons, BAHVS. Aside from being the founder and owner of the Adored Beast Apothecary, where she formulates holistic pet care products and is currently working on a canine cancer research project, she has also been the owner and practitioner of some of the busiest and long-standing holistic veterinary hospitals and clinics in North America, while regularly teaching on veterinary courses.
Julie Anne is also a pioneer in studying the dog’s microbiome and developing protocols for optimising gut health, which plays into the health of all our furry friends and us. In furthering a truly holistic approach to pet care, Julie Anne continues to work with vets and practitioners from all over the world.
Growing up helping in her mother’s animal rescue shelter was what contributed greatly to Julie Anne’s life purpose - protecting and caring deeply for animals and their health, while educating the public and fellow veterinarians to empower them to make the best choices for the ethical treatment and naturally holistic approaches to their pets’ healthcare.
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This blog first appeared on the Adored Beast Apothecary website, where this article "The Zen Dog: Reimagining the Healthy Dog" was curated and sourced from.
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